I couldn’t believe my ears when they announced that our next stop was the Arizona desert. I must have missed that in the itinerary given to us at the beginning of the competition which was supposed to take us across half of the State. We had started at the Texas Mountains which was the first competition of the season. I had trailed Brad in the first open practice and the hit but caught up with him the in next match at Arkansas.
We had traveled a long distance to get to Arizona, competing along the way in the states as we moved. It was the biggest competition I have ever gotten into, and I was enjoying every bit of it, winning some of it and losing some of it too. But in most of the game, I came second and never passed third in all of it along the way to Arizona. Many brands have called on me to woo me so I can represent them in subsequent competitions and that had been a good source of motivation for me.
Winning the Arizona competition would place me at a good advantage to winning the overall. I could hear whispers everywhere that I would be the only second person to win the competition in his debut in the history of the competition. Although I tried to ignore those whispers and pretended like I didn’t hear them but, it still went a long way to make me feel proud and motivated that I could do it.
I was competing with the only person that had done it:
Brad. I must say he was surely my mentor. I had been looking up to him since I first started to ride a dirt bike at the back of my school. I even have a poster of him taking a huge jump in the Texas freestyle competition. I was a huge fan and admirer. His autograph was the first thing I took when I finally met him, and that was when we were being introduced to the sponsors and spectators. I told him I was a big fan, and I was happy to see him and a privilege to race against him; it was one of my biggest achievements. I still wondered why he didn’t say a word other than a nod and smile and signature.
“What do you make of him?” Tom, my first acquaintance at the camp, asked me.
“The man is a legend,” I replied him simply.
“I think there is more to him than meet the eyes.”
“What do you mean?” I asked him with bitterness all over my face. He could tell I was at the defense of the man I admire greatly.
“I don’t really know, and I just feel there is something about him but, my mind works stupidly sometimes,” he said wisely because he could see I was not ready to buy whatever he had to say about Brad and I was ready to defend him. “Let’s go for a coffee,” he said finally, and I went with him, forgetting the subject we had spoken about a few seconds ago.
The Arizona desert was all I could ever think of. The landscape was the best I had ever seen and rode on. The scenery was so spectacular it could hold one in awe if a biker slowed down enough to take a look. I had the feeling it would be a remarkable place to lay the foundation of greatness and memories.
The Apache Trail was the location that was chosen for the race in Arizona. The trail is a 200-mile scenic byway loop that runs from Apache junction all the way towards Roosevelt Dam and back to Apache junction, promising scenic drive through Superstition Wilderness, Four Peaks Wilderness, Three Bars Wilderness and a portion of the Tonto National forest that surrounded this loop.
I was going through this and thinking how great it would be to ride and win here when a man in a leather jacket and jeans approached me. He didn’t introduce himself. Instead, he said:
“You are doing a great job kid; I have been watching you since the beginning of this competition. You seem to be in a good position for a debutant, and not many people have managed this feat. You do remind me of someone.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said with a bright smile on my face, not because I was doing well at the competition, but because he admitted that I reminded him of Brad.
“The Chap is getting old for the game now, seems his heart is elsewhere these days. I can assure you that is the more reason you are this close,” he continued.
“Who… what are you talking about sir?” I asked politely.
He ignored my question and continued. “This might just be his last race before he retires, but we intend to send him off in style. Are we not supposed to do that for him?” he asked in a way that made the question sound like it was not a question.
It soon came to me that all this talk was still about Brad and made me wonder what was wrong with him. I also remembered how he reacted when I went for his autograph and what Tom had said earlier.
“Is something wrong with Brad?” I asked with concern.
The man ignored my question again. “You are the next big thing, not that you have the chance at this, but you will do well to allow Brad race here,” he said with a dangerous smile on his face.
I was confused and couldn’t make a thing of all he was saying. “Brad can have any race he wants to have, he is a darned good biker,” I replied him.
“About that you are right. But Brad is losing his touch that is the only reason you are getting close to him. You see,” he came very close to me and placed his hand on my shoulder. “People who sponsor Brad also bet on him, powerful people that don’t like to lose. Do well and give him this day and you can become the next big shot,” he concluded and left.
I understood then what he meant, and without counsel, I did as he said.